Chronic Screen 53 of 17 reviews

Chronic

2015

Chronic Poster
  • Franco is unblinking in what he depicts: patients who have soiled themselves being tended to with unhurried care by David, for instance. But because Franco’s views are so steady, he achieves a kind of detachment that gives the film a sense of bearing graceful witness rather than wallowing in depredation. One can imagine how a sadist such as Ulrich Seidl would handle this material, and shudder. Franco is up to something much more considered, and maybe spiritual.

  • The film ends with a shock that almost feels cheap given the weirdly intimate and complex scenes that precede it. Chronic forces viewers to look closely at things they might rather ignore, and intentionally holds its emotions at a distance.

  • Roth’s the rare actor who can make a lack of openness compelling rather than opaque; so much so that when Franco does reveal David’s past it almost feels too prescriptive. Chronic ends on a note that bolds the film’s title. The final scene is visceral in a manner utterly unlike everything that’s come before it, which is perhaps why it proved divisive at Cannes. But it’s of a piece with Franco’s picture of life in general: a series of scenes repeated until they’re interrupted by death.

  • Maybe it’s silly, but the idea that we get at first, that he may be a serial killer or some kind of stalker, is kind of interesting. It’s not gratuitous because then the whole film questions why somebody would have a calling to help others. It cannot be empathy. It’s questioning that and in that way it’s interesting that the screenplay makes you wonder whether he’s a pervert.

  • The latterday film that best fits my slow-burn theme however was Michel Franco’s Chronic, which won the Best Screenplay award. Tim Roth plays an efficient, experienced agency nurse who cares for the dying, and the effort he’s put into understanding the techniques of that kind of work is obvious in every scene.

  • Franco's script teases out the character's tangled ambiguities with immaculate control: even as the story proceeds in the lowest of keys, our nerves never settle. Roth, meanwhile, is as marvellous as he's ever been, playing someone who may be a misunderstood saint or an oddly benevolent sociopath. It's a delicate performance that exudes a tender kind of chill. Only Franco's sharp left turn of an ending strikes a false note.

  • Although Franco has what we might call "chops," there's no question that he's a symptom of a larger problem of so-called festival cinema. If we understand that films like this are largely funded by national grant boards, which, let me make clear, is not a bad thing, then a certain insularity sets in, a rigor mortis wherein panelists who make certain things come to expect and award certain things. As this well-intentioned system grinds on, we get a moribund, third-rate iteration of "slow-cinema."

  • Roth's efforts are undermined by Franco’s emphasis on the stalking behavior, which makes the character far too overtly menacing. A little inappropriate behavior would have gone a long way. Chronic also eventually serves up a bathetic backstory for the character, needlessly “explaining” his dedication to his work. Worst of all, the film ends on a note so randomly jarring that the audience at the film’s Cannes premiere burst into mocking laughter, which was clearly not the intended reaction.

  • A character can be odd without being a creep, but Franco treats this like a distinction without a difference, doubling down on depictions of David's mild sociopathic tendencies after he's served with a sexual harassment lawsuit. This development is briefly compelling, until it becomes clear that Franco isn't interested in locating the truth in his characters.

  • Roth is terrific in the film, which has the chilly remove of a Michael Haneke drama, yet, despite that screenplay prize, doesn’t quite know how to resolve the intriguing issues it raises.

  • Don't entirely share my circle's view of Michel Franco - viz. that he's even more obnoxious than James, and about on a par with Francisco - but he does seem to hijack the sober arthouse style, both here and in After Lucia, for some pretty facile drama. All the intriguing creepy stuff about our hero turns out to be a red herring, leaving only a wallow in bodily decay and vague talk about euthanasia.

  • In Michel Franco’s unnecessarily mysterious Chronic, Tim Roth rises above the material, defining his character, a hospice nurse with a heavy burden of guilt, by making the subtext palpable at every moment.

  • When we finally get the revelation and the psychological motivations, they’re really banal, and we’ve seen them before. But Tim Roth was fascinating to watch for once. This is one of the best bits of work he’s done in a many years. The movie is showy in the way it wallows in its own aesthetic. I found it to be a disturbing experience at times, and there’s a lot of ambiguity in that character.

  • Chronic ends with one of the most insulting shots I’ve ever seen in a movie. At the press conference after the show, members of the jury praised different aspects of the film: its restraint (Del Toro), its politics (Gyllenhaal), its precision (Dolan). But the ending, for me, sacrificed each of those qualities in order to convey a bogus cosmic irony to which Haneke has yet to stoop. Franco hadn’t made a statement. He’d made a knockoff: NoMour.

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    Sight & Sound: Thirza Wakefield
    February 05, 2016 | March 2016 Issue (pp. 66-67)

    The topicality of Franco's subjects would suggest that he wants his films to be seen by a large audience, contributing to the wider discussion of these issues. But if he really wanted his films to be viewed by the general public, would he not invest his distressing themes with humour, as, say, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu did with its traumatic narrative? Instead, Franco's flat, matter-of-fact treatment of troubling and morally complex material is an offputting combination for paying audiences.

  • if we are to read Chronic’s denouement as more than merely a neat solution to the script’s structural stalemate, then the broader implications are highly contestable: the only way this ending can be coherently explained as anything other than a random, out-of-the-blue occurrence is by viewing Roth’s character as being punished by the Gods of fortune for his unholy act of assisted suicide. Thus, the film is either logically defective or politically abhorrent. Take your pick.

  • The whole subconsciously distended style felt so arbitrary in terms of how long a shot would be. And it has one of the most ridiculous endings. But it has something in common with other prizewinners here over the years. It reminds me of Battle in Heaven because it’s just one miserable tableau after another of, you know, people suffering with no discernible point.

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